Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste


Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Buccaneers of Buzz

March 20, 2015


I know many of you have published thousands of posts, but today is Chubby Chatterbox post #600, actually #623 but I’ve subtracted reposts. Although the weather isn’t cooperating everywhere, today is the first day of Astronomical spring and I wanted to post something appropriate.


My illustrations were mostly created for books, newspapers and magazines. This picture, done for my own amusement, is the only one created from a poem—a short piece by Emily Dickinson that playfully compares bees to pirates; it’s so fun and lighthearted that I couldn’t resist picking up my brushes to see what I could do with it. For those of you who are interested, this piece is acrylic on untempered masonite.







I hope it fills you with the regenerating power of spring and returns you to childhood fantasies of adventure and backyard buccaneers, if only for a moment.




Buccaneers of Buzz

Bees are Black,

With Gilt Surcingles

Buccaneers of Buzz.

Ride abroad in ostentation

And subsist on Fuzz.


—Emily Dickinson—






Note: Surcingles are wide straps that run over the back and under the belly of a horse, used to keep a blanket or other equipment in place.


Happy Spring




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I love your illustration. What is the medium you're using - acrylic? The bright colors are fantastic. If I ever write a book, I'm calling you.
By: Cherdo on March 20, 2015
I hope I'm seeing things correctly... you cleverly fashioned a ship and its sail into a cloud.
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 20, 2015
Great illustration! Right down to the fuzz on their legs.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on March 20, 2015
so cute! love his red sash!
By: TexWisGirl on March 20, 2015
What fun. Perfect read on this wet, cold day! I look forward to an invasion of the pirates soon.
By: Tabor on March 20, 2015
I THOUGHT that looked like Captain Jack Sparrow!
By: Al Penwasser on March 20, 2015
I love both the painting and the poem. Who'd ever think of describing the yellow stripes as surcingles? So clever and perceptive! Your painting is delightful and whimsical. It made me smile. Thanks!
By: Lexa Cain on March 20, 2015
Beautiful, right down to a tresure chest (probably full of honey)! Congratulations on reaching 600 posts.
By: mimi on March 20, 2015
I love this poem and your bee as a pirate is to funny and a gorgeous work of art! Cheers and Happy Spring!
By: Kathe W. on March 20, 2015
So nice of you to give us all a little buzz to celebrate the wonder of spring.
By: Tom Cochrun on March 20, 2015
Neat idea for a spring post.
By: red on March 20, 2015
You caught the spring euphoria I was feeling all day, Steve. Keep painting! And writing! It's the season for creating. JO
By: Jo on March 20, 2015
Fantastic! Love your art!
By: Bouncin Barb on March 20, 2015
Happy Spring!
By: Pixel Peeper on March 20, 2015
Arrr! Even an earring!
By: Val on March 20, 2015
I don;t think I would hang it in my living room, but it is good, you are very talented. but I think I have told you that before.
By: Cranky on March 20, 2015
Love it! It would be a fun piece for a child's bedroom.
By: The Bug on March 20, 2015
It's so playful and fun, I love it. You and Emily Dickinson make quite a team. She was a genius in terms of playing with words. You're a genius with telling stories through prose and paintings.
By: Robyn Engel on March 20, 2015
What a great piece! Happy Spring to you and yours too!
By: John on March 21, 2015
I love your painting, colourful and creative. You are one talented guy!
By: LL Cool Joe on March 21, 2015
I'm familiar with the poem. Dickinson is one of my favorite poets. My favorite poem of hers is I Felt a Funeral In My Brain. I wrote an essay on it in college. The Hurricane was probably about twelve. She noticed something interesting about the poem that I had missed: the feeling of heaviness in the poem. I related it to the lead coffins that were in use at the time. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on March 21, 2015
Very nice. The day before spring the weather was great, but it's cold and rainy today. R
By: Rick Watson on March 21, 2015
love the illustration with the ship of clouds.
By: Ellen Abbott on March 22, 2015
I like the illustration much more than the poem.
By: Catalyst on March 22, 2015
Captures the spirit of the season, Stephen!
By: Michael Manning on March 23, 2015

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